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  • Mikelle Drew

28 Days of Black Fashion History: Cross Colours

Many things are synonymous with the 90s, but in fashion, if you talk about streetwear, you have to talk about Cross Colours. The brand, started by TJ Walker and Carl Jones, was a phenom and attempted to inject positivity and inclusivity into the youth culture.

Carl started a graphic design and screen printing company out of fashion school called Surf Fetish. As his business grew, he needed more graphic designers and TJ answered an ad for the job. Eventually, he became unhappy with the direction of the business, so he shut it down. A month later, he and TJ started Cross Colours. And the inspiration: a piece of Kente cloth.

So where did the name come from? “We started with the name Cross Cultures because we really wanted something to be inclusive, and we wanted to identify with the culture,” Walker says. But after some legal issues with the name, they settled on Cross Colours, which was a better fit for the brand and it’s philosophy, anyway. The gangs were identified by colors, and Cross Colours was about unity.

Cross Colours quickly became popular, with a little help from the many celebrities who agreed to wear the brand for free. Carl and TJ brought the items that didn't make the line to studios, trying to get them on celebrities. One of their big breaks was having a shirt worn by Will Smith on his hit show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Their clothing would also appear on TV and movies including In Living Color, Martin, Sister Act and Boomerang. Cross Colours was also embraced and worn regularly by some of the 90s most popular entertainers including TuPac, TLC, and emergining actor, Djimon Hounsou.

Will Smith during his Fresh Prince days wearing Cross Colours

TLC in 1992 (Courtesy of Cross Colours)